November 20, 2015 at 8:14 pm EST | by Michael K. Lavers
HRC releases annual corporate equality index

Mexico City, gay news, Washington Blade

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin on Nov. 19, 2015, attended an event in Mexico City that noted the release of his organization’s annual Corporate Equality Index. (Washington Blade photo by Michael K. Lavers)

The Human Rights Campaign’s annual corporate equality index now ranks companies on whether they have anti-LGBT discrimination policies in place for their overseas employees.

The organization earlier this week in a press release said that Apple, Airbnb, Chevron, Citigroup, Google, Marriott International and the Walt Disney Company are among the 407 companies that received a perfect 100 score in the 2016 Corporate Equality Index.

HRC President Chad Griffin on Thursday attended an event in Mexico City with representatives of American Express, Dow and IBM. Officials from the U.S. Embassy in Mexico and members of Pride Connection, a group that advocates for LGBT equality in the workplace in the Latin American country, also took part.

“This year represents a milestone in the history of the CEI, and corporate America continues to break new ground in the fight for LGBT equality,” said Griffin in the press release that announced the 2016 Corporate Equality Index. “Our nation’s top companies this year have risen in record-breaking numbers to the challenge of extending non-discrimination protections to their LGBT employees around the globe.”

HRC launched the Corporate Equality Index in 2002.

LGBT rights advocates have previously criticized the organization over the way it ranks corporations.

Masha Gessen, a Russian journalist and prominent LGBT rights advocate, told the Washington Blade during a 2014 interview that multinational companies that do not offer the same benefits to their LGBT employees in other countries that their U.S. counterparts receive should not “be landing” on the Corporate Equality Index.

Scott Long, a former Human Rights Watch staffer, noted that Marriott supports Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s “repressive and homophobic” government. The advocate also singled out BP, which received a perfect score in this year’s Corporate Equality Index.

“A global index is useless unless it measures how companies take human rights into account in their deals with homophobes and dictators,” Long told the Blade in an email. “And to measure that, the Human Rights Campaign would need to take human rights more seriously — drop the narrow focus on paper policies, look at companies’ broad records and analyze the rights implications of where the money goes.”

LGBT labor group also criticizes report

Pride at Work Executive Director Jerame Davis in a statement specifically criticized HRC for awarding Walmart and T-Mobile high scores in the index.

“We are disappointed that the HRC Corporate Equality Index rewards big corporations for questionable employment practices without taking into consideration the lived experiences of the LGBTQ working people in those corporations,” he said in a statement. “It is our position that any company that takes action to stall, stymie, or otherwise undermine the efforts of their workers to unionize is preventing LGBTQ working people from achieving the full non-discrimination protections federal — and most state — law currently doesn’t provide.”

“LGBTQ working people receive far more protection under an inclusive union contract than they do under any existing state law,” added Davis.

Deena Fidas, director of the HRC Foundation’s Workplace Equality Program who co-authored the Corporate Equality Index, defended the report.

“For more than 14 years, the HRC Foundation and its Corporate Equality Index have been driving LGBT workplace equality by rating the nation’s largest companies and law firms on how they treat their LGBT employees, and working with them to establish fully-inclusive policies and practices — from explicit non-discrimination protections to transgender-inclusive healthcare benefits,” she told the Blade on Friday in a statement.

“This year, a record-breaking number of companies earned the CEI’s top score, even with new criteria requiring them to extend their non-discrimination protections to their global employees,” added Fidas. “When in 31 states there are still no legal protections for LGBT employees at risk for being fired simply for who they are or who they love, it is significant that a growing number of private sector employers are committing to non-discrimination protections here and around the world.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

1 Comment
  • It seems a bit sleazy to me that the HRC’s only response to their poor ranking decisions is to justify it by saying they’ve been around a long time, as though longevity somehow means they’re honest.

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